To George…

I was kind of scared, that first day when I met you.

You were my first contact with death.

You were the first dead person I had ever seen.

Yes, I said person.

Don’t let me ever forget that you, and all the patients I will see in my medical career – are people.

What kind of stories could you have told? How much life experience had you picked up in your years on this earth? What did you do? How did you live?

You knew people. People knew you.

Somewhere, you were someone’s loved one.

Someone wept when you died.

For our benefit, those who wept were denied the finality of a graveside service. There was no earth thudding down heavily onto a casket in the ground. No flowers mingling with the dirt.

Only heartache.

And uncertainty.

How long would it be before your body would finally be put to rest?

From dust we are made, and to dust we will return.

You became nameless. Your sole identity tied up in the cadaver tag around your ankle.

Until that day when we met you.

That was the day that we named you George. You had been cadaver #XYZ for quite a while already, but on that day you became George to us.

For seven weeks you were “our” cadaver.

For seven weeks we explored your body. We looked at the innermost parts of you – things you yourself had never seen! For seven weeks we learnt about anatomy in a way that cannot be simulated.

The learning experience that you gave us is irreplaceable.

Thank you, George.

We won’t forget.



7 thoughts on “To George…

  1. Thank you George. I also got to know you over these seven weeks. Your obituary brought tears to my eyes.

  2. So true… its so easy to forget these were once people that were loved and cared for. These amazing people have given us the experience of a lifetime and we will forever be indebted to them

  3. Over here, people can choose to be ‘kept together’ and given back to their families after they were ‘used’. This is taken rather seriously as indeed, it’s a huge obstacle that the family won’t be able to do a proper service.

    Also, you’re very lucky to be able to completely dissect one body! We ‘ve done a few pieces (carpal tunnel, intestines, heart etc) but we didn’t have the opportunity to see & do everything. To teach us everything, there were demonstration bodies in which they’d prepared specific structures. It’s probably better because you can’t mess up but I don’t think it beats the experience of being completely responsible of a first ‘patient’…

  4. CC: I may have slightly mislead you in my post. We do make sure that all parts of the cadaver are kept together, and ultimately the body is given back to the family for cremation or burial.

    However, this could only happen a couple of years after the person died. I think this must be really tough for the family – reopening old wounds so to speak.

    Wow, so you didn’t actually dissect an entire cadaver at any point during med school in the Netherlands? Here, we dissect, AND there are demonstration bodies with prepared structures so that when we mess up we can still see the anatomy. I didn’t realize quite how priveleged we are!

  5. “The learning experience that you gave us is irreplaceable” – Amazing – to think that George even fulfill an Important task in this life after he died.

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